Do we have to supply an Invoice to a Freight Forwarder ?

Question posted by a user. (This user chose not to share their profile)

For shipment leaving the EU from the UK, do we have to supply have an Invoice to the Freight Forwarder to enable them to do the Export customs entry , or is another document such as an ECSI acceptable ?

Report inappropriate content

William Barns-Graham, on behalf of Open to Export in PE2.

Hi there,

The impression I have is that it's useful to have all your documentation ready before shipping so it would probably be wise to supply the forwarder with an invoice, though I'm sure you'll get more accurate advice from the experts shortly.

This article on shipping your first international order might also be a useful starting point in the meantime -

Thanks for the question and good luck!


Report inappropriate content

Ian James, on behalf of i2i Infinity Limited in BA4.

The ESCI is still a useful document to provide to your forwarder as it sets out the breakdown of goods by tariff code and other details required for the export declaration. You can also use the ECSI to set out responsibilities for different elements of the shipment.

You can raise an ECSI using our e-z Consign system at and by completing the shipment details once they carry across to all forms, so that you can raise an invoice, packing list, dangerous goods note, bank documents, certificate of origin, etc easily.

Hopefully a freight forwarder will be able to comment on whether they require the invoice for any reason.

If we can be any further help please drop me a line.
Kind regards,

Report inappropriate content

"Hopefully a freight forwarder will be able to comment on whether they require the invoice for any reason."

The Freight Forwarder is insisting that they have to have a copy of the Invoice (For Export), although they don't seem to be able to provide any ruling or directive to support this.

In certain circumstances we don't want to supply Invoices to the Forwarder in case they are passed on, especially where the buyer and the consignee are different parties.

Report inappropriate content

Simon Arnold, on behalf of Unity Logistics Ltd in S66.


There is no law or directive that says that the forwarder in this instance must complete the export entry but if you have contracted with a freight forwarder to arrange the export then they are really only asking for you to supply the documentation/information needed in order to submit the export declaration. If you really wanted to you could look in to self-representation and maybe do it yourself.

In my experience the invoice would rarely go beyond the forwarder anyway. Usually just keep on file for the audit trail.

It sounds like the real problem is that the buyer doesn't want the consignee to know who their supplier (you) is but they want the goods delivering directly to them to save a bit of time and money. They are the middleman, buying and selling, who, like freight forwarders, often do not ever come in to physical contact with the goods.

Simple solution: request in writing that the freight forwarder only uses the invoice for domestic customs clearance and don't send any physical invoices with the goods.

Generally, but not always, this will be sufficient but sometimes overriding factors may come in to play. Example - Switzerland customs currently requires original invoices in order to customs clear goods for import. In reality, there is nothing to physically stopping the driver from handing over a copy on delivery - but if they did when you had asked them not to then the haulier can be pretty sure you won't be asking them to do the next run.

What I would say is that everyone involved within the supply chain is really working towards the same goals. By the very nature a certain amount of information has to be made available in order to make it possible for goods to move from one place to another. Without doing it all yourself, really all you can do is pick your suppliers well.



Report inappropriate content

To respond to this question, please Login or Register